U.S. Stock Markets Finish in the Green Friday; Oil Futures Notch 2014 Record

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Dow Jones Industrial Average
Sep 18
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Price: 17,265.99 | Ch: 109.14 (0.6%)

U.S. stock markets posted gains across the board on Friday, despite growing macroeconomic concerns.

Here’s the scorecard from today’s trading session:

DOW: 16,772.21 (+0.23%)
S&P 500: 1,935.94 (+0.30%)
NASDAQ: 4,310.65 (+0.30%)

Oil futures posted their biggest weekly gain in 2014. Brent crude oil struck a nine-month high near $115 a barrel after Islamists captured two more Iraqi towns overnight. The United States has now threatened military action against militants, and growing threats to the oil supply chain are driving price increases. As insurgents advance toward Baghdad, government contractors have been withdrawing employees.

Here are the top stories that affected U.S. stock markets today: 

  • The New Fed Auction: Following seizure by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. government will auction off 30,000 bitcoins on July 27. The bitcoins, currently valued near $18 million, were seized after the FBI cracked down on the Silk Road online marketplace over suspicions of money laundering. Many are concerned that such a large liquidation could shake up Bitcoin prices, or lead to a sell-off in the coming weeks.
  • Another Day, Another Recall: Shares of General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) rose marginally despite news that the company would recall all current-generation Chevrolet Camaros. GM has been mired in a constant cycle of recalls this year in an effort to address growing safety concerns. GM also plans to recall more than 500,000 Camaros from model years 2010-2014.
  • Merger Mania: Travel booking platform Priceline Group Inc. (Nasdaq: PCLN) announced plans to purchase restaurant reservation service OpenTable Inc. (Nasdaq: OPEN) for $2.6 billion in cash. The travel company has offered $103 per share, sending OpenTable stock soaring more than 46% on Friday. The deal is a natural extension of Priceline’s travel booking services, and it will help OpenTable expand operations into new markets.
  • Banks Behaving Badly: Shares of Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) slipped more than 2% on news that the U.S. Justice Department is pushing for a penalty of more than $10 billion over an investigation into faulty mortgage-backed bonds, according to Bloomberg. Citigroup has offered to pay just $4 billion in a settlement. However, the Justice Department could file a lawsuit against the bank as early as next week if it fails to raise cash and comply with these demands.
  • A Nice Price Pop: Shares of clothing retailer Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR) jumped more than 21% on news that Sycamore Partners is considering purchasing the struggling firm. Sycamore currently owns 9.9% of the firm and is engaging in due diligence.

Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading - for Money Morning Members only:

  • Our Most "Unconventional" Investment Is in an Incredible Rally Right Now: In recent months, we've seen a number of negative Bitcoin stories in the mainstream media, suggesting it was a bubble in the making. During that period, our expert has remained one of the few tech analysts to say the Bitcoin market is not only healthy, but faces a very bright future indeed...
  • Time to Profit from the “ASCO” Effect: We love the American Society of Clinical Oncology because of the so-called "ASCO Effect" - a hefty surge in cancer-focused biotech stocks that always accompanies the start of this group’s annual meeting. This year's ASCO turned us on to an important new trend - one that's shaping up as the next big profit opportunity in biotech…
  • Europe's Unprecedented Rate-Slashing Gives Us a Classic Profit Play: The European Central Bank is attempting to employ "unconventional" policies to kick-start the economy. It’s just entered uncharted waters, and there’s a perfect opportunity to profit...